Person of interest held in car arson case

2012-01-02 18:19

Los Angeles - Twelve more suspected arson fires broke out early on Monday in the Los Angeles area, and a "person of interest" was taken into custody for questioning in connection with the dozens of suspicious car fires that have hit city since last week.

The developments came a day after police distributed DVDs featuring footage of the person of interest, a white man between 20 and 30 years old with a receding hairline and a shoulder-length ponytail. The man is wanted for questioning in connection with the rash of arson blazes, said Officer Sara Faden.

He was seen on video on Saturday after emerging on foot from inside an underground parking structure on Hollywood Boulevard where a car fire was reported.

Fire department spokesperson Jaime Moore said it was too soon to say whether the person of interest was the man seen on the video footage. "It's still too early to say whether or not this person has any direct correlation to the fires," Moore said.

Early Monday, firefighters battled 12 suspected arson fires at carports and garages.

Moore said authorities believe the fires were connected to the earlier blazes, which now stand at 55.

The outbreak of arson fires has left a trail of smouldering debris in Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood and the Fairfax district of Los Angeles since Thursday.

Most of those fires were set in parked cars. In several cases, flames have jumped to carports and apartment units.

There have been no injuries.

Detectives spent Sunday analysing security video camera footage and following up on other leads after a half-dozen more vehicles were set on fire on New Year's Eve.

Authorities haven't said how the car fires were sparked or what was collected at the crime scenes. They were unsure if the rash of fires were the work of one arsonist or multiple people or copycats.

A reward of $60 000 has been offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

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